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Iqbal Hamza, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:


Secondary Appointment(s):

Microbiology and Immunology

Administrative Title:

Director, Imaging Core, Center for Blood Oxygen Transport and Hemostasis (CBOTH)

Additional Title:



670 W. Baltimore Street, HSF III, 8th Floor

Phone (Primary):


Education and Training

  • University of Bombay, India, B.Sc. & M.Sc., Biochemistry, 1985-1991
  • SUNY at Buffalo School of Medicine, Ph.D., Biochemistry, Mentor: Dr. Mark O'Brian, 1991-1997
  • Washington University School of Medicine; Postdoctoral Fellow, Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Gitlin, 1997-2002
  • Translational and Functional Genomics Branch, NHGRI/NIH, Sabbatical, Dr. Paul Liu, 2010-2011
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch, NHGRI/NIH, Sabbatical, Dr. David Bodine, 2019
  • University of Torino, Italy, Visiting Professor, 2021


I am a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Center for Blood Oxygen Transport and Hemostasis. The long-term objectives of my research program are to identify the genes and pathways responsible for heme transport and trafficking in eukaryotes which have remained poorly understood.

At the University of Maryland, I deliberately set out to uncover heme trafficking pathways in eukaryotes – which were unknown at the time.  Our pioneering work with the invertebrate animal model C. elegans demonstrated that this roundworm is exceptional because it does not synthesize heme but rather utilizes environmental heme to manufacture heme-containing proteins, which have human homologs [PNAS 2005].  Using the worm model, my research group identified the first eukaryotic heme importer/transporter (HRG-1) which is conserved in zebrafish and humans [Nature 2008; Cell Metabolism 2013; eLife 2019; Nature 2022].

More recently, my group uncovered how heme is exported from the intestine to other tissues including the embryos by HRG-3 and ABCC5/MRP5 [Cell 2011; Cell Metabolism 2014], and how organs communicate with each other [Nature Cell Biology 2017].  Our studies not only identified homologs of heme trafficking machinery in humans but also in parasites such as hookworms, filarial worms, and Leishmania, which all rely on host heme for survival [Infect Immun 2006, PLoS NTD. 2009; PLoS Path. 2012]. 

Highlighted Publications

Pek RH, Yuan X, Rietzschel N, Zhang J, Jackson LK, Nishibori E, Ribeiro A, Simmons WR, Jagadeesh J, Sugimoto H, Alam MZ, Garrett LJ, Haldar M, Ralle M, Phillips J, Bodine D, Hamza I. Hemozoin produced by mammals confers heme tolerance. eLife, 2019; 8:e49503 (eLife Digest).

Sinclair J, Pinter K, Samuel T, Beardsley S, Yuan X, Zhang J, Meng K, Yun S, Krause M, and Hamza I.  Inter-organ signaling by HRG-7 promotes systemic heme homeostasis Nature Cell Biol. 2017;19:799-807.

Yuan X, Rietzschel N, Kwon H, Nuno Da Silva ABW, Hanna DA, Phillips J, Raven E, Reddi AR and Hamza I. Regulation of intracellular heme trafficking revealed by subcellular reporters.  Proc Natl Acad Sci, 2016; 113:E5144-5152.

Korolnek T, Zhang J, Beardsley S, Scheffer GL, Hamza I.  Control of metazoan heme homeostasis by a conserved multidrug resistance protein.  Cell Metab. 2014;19:1008-1019.

White C, Yuan X, Schmidt PJ, Bresciani E, Samuel TK, Campagna D, Hall C, Bishop K, Calicchio ML, Lapierre A, Ward DM, Liu P, Fleming MD and Hamza I.  HRG1 is essential for heme transport from the phagolysosome of macrophages during erythrophagocytosis.  Cell Metab. 2013; 17: 261-270.

Chen C, Samuel TK, Sinclair J, Dailey H and Hamza I. An intercellular heme trafficking protein delivers maternal heme to the embryo during development in C. elegans. Cell. 2011; 145:720-731.

Rajagopal A, Rao AU, Amigo J, Tian M, Upadhyay SK, Hall C, Uhm S, Mathew MK, Fleming MD, Paw BH, Krause M and Hamza I. Heme homeostasis is regulated by the conserved and concerted functions of HRG-1 proteins. Nature 2008; 453: 1127-1131 (Epub Apr 16, 2008).